Whenever a beloved movie like Date Night goes gangbusters at the box office, Hollywood takes notice and immediately begins developing a sequel. But sometimes, something along the way goes wrong and the sequel actually turns out to be a lot worse than the original. That seems to be what happened with Rough Night, the long awaited sequel to the Date Night franchise.
The first warning you’ll get that Rough Night isn’t going to be nearly as good as Date Night is the casting. The studio was apparently too cheap to cough up the money to pay the original stars (Tina Fey and Steve Carrell) their quote, and so they recast the leads with two much less funny actors: Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon. And while it’s daring to cast Kate McKinnon as a male, no amount of makeup or digital effects can make me believe she’s the same character that Steve Carrell played in the original.
Another problem with the movie is the plot, which is much less down to earth than the original. Date Night had a premise that everyone could understand: a couple goes out for a fancy dinner but end up being chased by mobsters in a case of mistaken identity. Rough Night goes for something more along the lines of The Hangover but much more confusing.
Phil and Claire Foster (Scarlett Johansson and Kate McKinnon) fight over Phil’s invitation to a raunchy bachelor party in Miami. Phil eventually goes anyway despite Claire’s concerns and ends up on a wild ride with his sex-crazed buddies Buck (Ilana Glazer), Evans (Jillian Bell), Turrance (Leslie Jones), and Reinhold (Zoë Kravitz). Buck hits his head on a bong, Evans finds a dead stripper (Zach Galifianakis) in a closet, Turrance accidentally gets a crazy tattoo and Reinhold hits his head on a windshield and breaks through it ending up on the side of the road but gets up because he still feels okay from being on so many painkillers.
Meanwhile Claire has tracked down Phil and his goofy companions and she’s ready to Shut. This. Shit. Down. I wouldn’t spoil the ending if there was anything to spoil, but none of it makes any sense anyway. It’s just a series of bizarre set pieces involving a loose pig, a trampoline, and an unfortunate accident with a cement truck.
TL;DR: While Date Night was one of the top six comedies of all time, this sequel is a scattered mishmash that suffers from too many missed opportunities.
What the rest of the critics are saying:
“The bizarre choice to cast female actors in a number of different male roles (and vice versa), using a heavy amount of makeup to make it believable turns out to be the only interesting thing about this by the numbers sequel to Date Night.” – Biffanie Quane, Slant Magazine
“The amount of head trauma in this movie is staggering.” – Vang Anh Trung Nguyên, New York Daily News
“Tina Fey and Steve Carrell aren’t back, baby, and Rough Night suffers for it, big time!” – Eric D. Snider, EricDSnider.com
“I’ve never seen a comedy this joyless and sullen.” – Nikita Urevich, Film Freak Central
“The circus freaks at the very end were my favorite part.” – Thế Lực Ngoc Thi, Toronto Sun
“The loss of Shawn Levy in the director’s chair is deeply felt in this dithering sequel to Date Night.” – Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, AVClub
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